Sleep Apnea Increases in the US Population

sharma-obesity-sleepapnea1To anyone involved in bariatric care, screening for sleep apnea should be an essential part of clinical assessment. Thus, not surprisingly, a substantial proportion of bariatric patients are diagnosed with this condition and receive (often life-changing) therapy.

But how common is this condition in the overall population?

This question is addressed in a paper by Peppard and colleagues published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Based on data in bout 1,500 participants from the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort Study, an ongoing community-based study established in 1988 with participants randomly selected from an employed population of Wisconsin adults, prevalence of sleep-disordered breathing in the United States for the periods of 1988-1994 and 2007-2010 was estimated using NHANES data for age, sex, and body mass index.

Based on these estimates, the current prevalence of moderate to severe sleep-disordered breathing (apnea-hypopnea index, measured as events/hour, ≥15) in the US are 10% among 30-49-year-old men; 17% among 50-70-year-old men; 3% among 30-49-year-old women; and 9% among 50-70 year-old women.

Not only do these estimated prevalence rates represent a substantial increase over the last 2 decades but, as expected even higher rates of sleep apnea are seen in the more obese section of the population.

Thus, sleep apnea is certainly a condition that will require a lot of attention both in terms of diagnostics and management.

Edmonton, Alberta

ResearchBlogging.orgPeppard PE, Young T, Barnet JH, Palta M, Hagen EW, & Hla KM (2013). Increased Prevalence of Sleep-Disordered Breathing in Adults. American journal of epidemiology PMID: 23589584